It is no longer news that child molestation has become rampant in recent times; a recent review shows that cases of child molestation, ranging from rape to incest floods the media almost on daily basis. Three in every ten children stand the risk of being sexually abused every day and one begins to question the moral values of humanity.
Sexual abuse of a child is the involvement of an older person with a minor. The World Health Organisation, WHO described child molestation in the 1996 Consultation of Child Abuse Prevention (62), as “the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend or is unable to give informed consent to, for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society…” For instance, the sullied habit of a pedophile; preferring sexual contact with a child rather than an adult, hence, whether it is practiced by fondling, intercourse, masturbation, obscene phone calls, sharing pornographic images or movies, sex trafficking or any other sexual conduct with a child, the act provokes mental, emotional or physical harm to the wellbeing of the child.
Perpetrators of these debased acts usually manipulate their victims to stay quiet, using a number of tactics, such as physical power to suppress/intimidate their victims, threats with scary tales, money or incentives of all sorts to lure their victims. Vanguard on July 14, 2020 reported a case of a 60 year-old man, Haruna Lawal who allegedly raped an eight-year-old girl after luring her with N100. The Sun Newspaper on 30th June, 2020 also reported a case of a 20 year-year-old man, Benjamin Wariebi, who raped an eleven-year-old girl.
Sadly, abusers sometimes threaten to kill their victims if they revealed their identities and in such cases, victims perpetually live in fear, or become timid and scared to associate freely with others; as their trust, authority to live freely and freedom of expression have been thwarted by a close relation, parent, sibling, playmate, neighbor, caregiver or a stranger.
Child molestation has generally caused untold emotional trauma that has shattered families; as their loved ones sometimes suffer from sexually transmitted infections, physical injuries, unwanted pregnancies, and low self-esteem. More so, children who have been sexually abused are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, eating disorders and prone to self-harm, involve in criminal activities, drug abuse and alcohol or commit suicide, due to post-traumatic disorders.
Although, in Nigeria, sexual abuse has been declared a criminal act and punishable by law in the Child Right Act bill assented into law in 2003 and the criminal code, yet prevalence of the debased act continues unabated. The trend calls for worry, thus, everybody must be involved in the fight against this menace. Children are the future of not just their immediate families, but to a nation as well, but if they are destroyed right in their prime, then the future looks bleak and vague.
Child molestation is wickedly against child freedom to growth, against God Almighty and humanity, therefore, government, parents and guardians must live up to their responsibilities, by ensuring the safety of each child. The fight is for everyone, we must be advocates for sanity towards the child; a voice to the innocent souls and stand against defilement.
Parents and guardians should be more vigilant of the activities of the children around them. Make them priority, by sharing quality time with them. Create opportunities for interaction and games; teach them early to understand the right names of their body parts and the dangers of playing with such parts. Encourage them to report whoever plays with their sensitive parts, irrespective of the personality.
Endeavour to understand their feelings, observe their daily changes and reactions toward their growth. Most importantly, parents are advised to strike a balance between work and family time. Children need love and care; hence, it should be genuinely and generously expressed to enhance the child’s wellbeing. Try to know and understand the kind of friends they keep, be interested in the books they read, the movies they watch and be a reliable friend to them. As stated by Barr. Diseye Ogbise, a child advocate, no child molestation case should be swept under the carpet, negotiations to settle out of court should not be an option, as no amount of money can wipe away the trauma of sexual abuse victims. This is why molesters should squarely face the wrath of the law, to serve as deterrent to others.
Min. of Information, Orientation and Strategy, Bayelsa State